Friday, June 8, 2012

M is for.....

marshmellows!  What better way to ring in summer than a little backyard fire to roast marshmellows.  The other day, we found a fire pit at a yard sale.  It was just perfect we thought and knew we'd put it to good use. 

Yana, showing Reni how this is done.  Reni couldn't find her flip flops so boots it is.  

I think Nik is enjoying this marshmellow just a bit too much.

Yana helping out Summer.  Not sure what the white line is.  It's not on my pictures so might be a blogger thing.   The bench back there Max made.  He's donating it to the church we play Upwards Soccer at. 

Ahh, the first bite of burnt marshmellowee goodness.

Max was indeed our fire meister.  He's also in charge of making sure it's out when we're done.  Plus, having only one kid w/ a lighter is a better idea.

Summer couldn't seem to get enough of it. 

Why is Alyona so angry?  Because I told her she had to finish her work first.  She had all dog gone day and was purposefully ignoring me and saying she didn't care.  I said fine, you'll miss out later.  I think she learned a lesson that day b/c the next day she did all her work & then some.  LOL.

Now, this is our marshmellow king!  Alex LOVES marshmellows.  In fact, the other day he saw a marshmellow gun at Target and almost picked it up instead of his mp-3 player.  We'll have to save that one for another present one day.  Not sure what's with the fake smile.  He does it for every picture.  His sibs used to do it at the same age.  

Reni and Bojan hanging out.  

 Max wondering what's happening around here. 

Umm, Logan I think you have that a bit burned son.

Max, finally getting to roast his own after helping everyone else.

 They're ready to chow down!  I know there's a huge mess behind them.  We're working on it.

Reni, enjoying a tasty snack.  Wait till we add chocolate to these puppies and make s'mores.  

Now that is total relaxation.  Got to love it.

Toady is Friday.  Kids are out of school.  we've been lounging around and cleaning up.  Garden was weeded and picked for tonight's meal.  Salad.  We cleaned out the van.  Washed the van.  Did all the laundry.  Organized Summer's closet and got rid of clothing that unfortunately is now to small.  My 3T kiddo is now in a 6!  Kind of sad in a way to see her grow so fast.  But I know it's a good thing too.  We were going to go get Reni's ears pierced but think we'll wait till tomorrow.  They were going to do it last year but the people told them their new mom and dad might get mad.  I said no but glad they considered that and let us do it.  

Ordered 3 sets of glasses yesterday and still thinking about it.  Nearly $900!  And yes, I know all about the other sites to get them cheap.  I'm one of those people that has to try them on and need transition lenses.  Max and Warren also like to personally try them on.  Hey, it will be worth it to see better.  We get glasses covered once every 2 years.  Unfortunately, scripts change like the wind around here so not allowed this year.  Out of pocket.  Fun, fun.  oh please hurry Mr. IRS Man.  Still have heard nothing in case you're wondering.  I know many other adoptive families have received theirs back now.  Hoping we hear something next week.  Actually, I'd rather it just show up in the bank.  LOL.  

Tomorrow we wake up early and go help w/ the church landscaping.  While there, Warren will go look at a bus.  Yes, I said bus.  May be an interesting ride to Ohio.  May need to name a vehicle.  We'll see.  More to come later.  We're on an organization kick today so not losing momentum. 

T minus 13 days...CMV

Thought it was high time I did this post.  I've had many people asking if we're going.  In 13 short days, we are leaving on a CMV.  No idea what that is.  Well, it's made up so you wouldn't.  CMV-- Chaos Manor Vacation.  That's our name for it anyhow.  And this vacation, we are going to the Bulgarian Reunion in Ohio and making a week long trip out of it!  This is very significant in many, many ways.  It is our first big vacation as a family of 12.  It is the first time ever we are going somewhere and staying more than 3 nights.  We found past years that was the max we could stay somewhere just due to the upheaval it caused some of our kids w/ various disorders.  Over the years, we've learned how to  control things a bit better so we're willing to make an attempt this year.  Even w/ three new ones.  A bit about our trip. 

We intend to leave here early Thursday morning.  In our possible bus.  That is for another post in and of itself.  Trust me.  Anyhow, we will head to Charleston, WVA.  We plan on going on a glass blowing tour first.  It's two miles from our campgrounds and FREE.  How can you not go?  We'll be going here .  Not sure yet if this is a good idea taking 10 of them to a glass company but we're up for the adventure.  After, settling down in our campgrounds .  Cook some burgers on the grill.  Enjoy the lake activities they have and settle in for the night.  Next day, it is head to Ohio for the Bulgarian Reunion!  We'll be there Friday, Saturday and leave Sunday morning.  Can not wait to go.  I think meeting up w/ everyone will be so much fun.  Nice to see a face behind some of the blogs we all get to know.  Tons of activities planned for all of them.  I was late signing up so unfortunately, we don't have a bathroom in our cabins but we do have A/C.  Told my late night go the bathroom kids I'm NOT hiking to go potty in the middle of the night.  So if you see me screaming at the kids not to drink anything at 11 o'clock at night, you'll know why.  LOL.  Well, unless you want to take them.  Hey, we did this a few years ago.  Went to a campground.  Bathroom was literally up a rocky path quite a ways away.  Bojan takes forever to navigate hills.  It was not a fun time.  Path wasn't even lit.  Did I mention I have night blindness and literally can not see in the dark?  Not a good combo.  Anyhow, practicing w/ them now.  Going to be a test for sure. 

Sunday, we'll head down to Kentucky.  We're staying at more campgrounds.  These I'm actually psyched about as we'll have our own kitchen and bathrooms in the cabin.  I know, simple things make us happy.  This place has an awesome water slide and sure the kids will use it.  While in Kentucky, we'll be going here , here , here (to eat) , and here!  I think that is quite a bit to squeeze in.   Mammoth Caves are supposed to be really cool to see.  It's in our book of 'Amazing Places to take your Kids.'  So many things we're doing.  Again, hoping all goes well. 

We are looking forward to this vacation.  Many firsts we will all experience together.  So much to see and do.  I know some may be overwhelming and that's okay.  I planned this trip out right down to the menu of what we're cooking.  Kids helped plan that too.  Now, we're working on what we must take there.  We have a dog sitter.  Today, we're spring cleaning out the van and washing it in case we don't have the bus to take.  Again, another post.  One great thing about being a family is getting to enjoy things together.  New experiences.  We want to do more things together and go more places.  There are many deals you can find even w/ a family of 12.  And campgrounds really aren't camping in the traditional sense any more.  Anyhow, just thought I'd share what was coming up.  I highly doubt I'll blog while gone. I truly just want to enjoy the moments with them and not be in front of a computer.  They'll be plenty of time to do that once home.  You only get these moments once in a life time.  And, I hope we have many memories to make.  Can't wait to meet some of you in person. 

What Camp Cheerio Means to us

2 weeks ago we went to a place called Camp Cheerio in Roaring Gap, NC.  It is in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC.  People come from all over to go here.  And you've seen the pictures.  But it's not just the view we go for.  Though it helps!  The NCCSA (NC Cued Speech Association) puts this on each year.  They offer cue classes for those who want to learn.  Yana will be taking those next year.  It is a place where families can go.  Not feel so alone.  For us, this is so, so important.

This is the one thing the kids look forward to every single year since we started going.  It means more to them than Christmas and I'm not exaggerating about that.  In fact, they get the calender out and start counting down the days in January!  Despite us not going until May.  It's nuts.  But they all love it that much.  There are friendships formed year after year.  For Nik, it means the world.  It is THE place he belongs.  Though only for 3 days, it feels much longer.  Memories are ingrained in their heads and they just love it.  Nik since he has been home from Camp Cheerio has been trying to communicate up a storm.  He is talking to us.  He signs and tries to talk at the same time.  He didn't use to do this.  But after Camp Cheerio, I think he felt he could.  He had this new sense of confidence to talk.  See, at Camp Cheerio, no one makes fun of him for how he's talking.  No one looks at him strange for signing. He sees he's not alone and in his element.  I think that is important to kids. 

The other kids feel they belong as well.  This was Irina's first year as a volunteer and she was beyond thrilled they wanted her to come back.  She was so, so worried that they'd think she'd do a bad job.  I said just be yourself, you're great at watching kids.  It's all she could talk about that they wanted her to come back next year and work w/ the same age category.  I think it's awesome as she gained much, much needed self -confidence and self-esteem.

The new kids got to know other kids and are more than eager to learn sign.  They WANT to communicate.  A few months ago in Bulgaria, they were refusing to learn.  Remember, disabilities are thought of very differently over there.  The new kids learned acceptance that weekend.  A great life lesson.

Then we have Yana.  Next year, Yana is going to sign up for the cue classes they offer.  I think it is wonderful she'll learn how to cue. I could not do it.  Warren could.  I was a horrible student at cuing.  But having someone in the house that can cue would be great. 

It's a camp where everyone comes away learning something. I think it is absolutely wonderful. I would lOVE, LOVE to put something like this together for FASers.  I would.  Have speakers come in, kids enjoy things, etc.  If you ever get a chance to attend a cued speech camp, please do.  They have them in VA as well I know. I just know the one in NC rocks!  The people are awesome, awesome, awesome.  The camp staff is incredible.  The lessons learned are lifelong.  The view is spectacular as well.  So, we will continue to go as long as they'll have us.  We'll continue to learn and enjoy this May weekend every year.  I do hope some of you get to join us next year.  This year, there were 19 new families!  252 people.  Max is 280 we're allowed to have.  I think we need to get the remaining 28 to come next  year.  We love Camp Cheerio.  Plain and simple.  Thanks to all who make it possible.  It does change lives whether they realize it or not.

Flabulous to Fabulous

Disappointed in myself this week. I know I could use a dozen or more excuses but I won't.  That would not do me any good.  I did walk w/ my friend Rebecca every morning.  I did do the weightlifting and stretching every single day.  I was moving.  However, this is the week I wanted to add cardio and I did not.  Mad at myself.  It was a late night every night this week as paper work had to get done amongst other things.  Just always seems like not enough hours in the day.  I mean, I found time to walk and do the other things.  I MUST find time for the cardio.  Must.  No excuses.  Another area I was horrible in was the eating.  Was not watching myself as I was in previous and paid the price.  I actually gained 1 lb. this week.  Now you can see why I'm so frustrated today.  Maybe that's why today we're doing all kinds of cleaning up around the house, washing the van, weeding the garden and a bunch of other laborous activities.  Need to.  I'm ready for a change but mad at myself for being what I consider slack this week in many areas.  Won't happen again.  I am determined still to loose more.  So, next week it will be extra hard work no holds barred.  I will succeed. 

Now, trying to not eat as much meat and slowly going that route.  yesterday, tried making myself a new sandwich.  Zucchini, tomato and onion w/a  dash of cheese.  Epic fail.  LOL.  I love veggies but I did something wrong w/ that combo.  But, I do actually like the fact that I'm willing to try new dishes and come up w/ something that would fit my tastes and calorie counts.  So, there you have it.  Not a stellar week but didn't give up either so that should count for something.  Ready to jump back on the rollercoaster weight loss ride.  I know some weeks at the Biggest Loser they gain and it's just the way it goes.  They also though, never seem to give up.  So, neither can I. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bits and pieces

Today is Wednesday.  Been a weird kind of week.  Not bad weird, just weird.  Doesn't feel quite right and not sure why.  Think it's b/c of all the going ons and end of school stuff.  I've been begging the kids to tell me when their awards' ceremonies are so we could go.  Asking for quite some time now.  And, the school usually does robo calls on this stuff.  Did we get any info from anyone?  Nope.  So, Bojan got most improved for history and got A/B honor roll this last quarter.  Again, would have liked to have been there.  I do think though as they get older they do that stuff on purpose as to not be embarrassed.  Oh well.  Last day of school is this Friday.  Not long to go.

Tonight we went to the church clubs for the last time.  Kids did great w/ their presentations.  Puppet show was hilarious.  I honestly laughed till I cried.  Summer and Nik were in it and that should say it all right there.  LOL.  Afterwards, went to Target so Alyona & Alex could spend their early b-day money.  Alyona bought a LeapPad.  A kids' Ipad type thing.  Pretty cool and wished Alex would have gotten one but he said they're in the kid department so that would be babyish.  I think he'll regret it but we'll see.  Alex bought an mp-3 player, Nutella and some pretzel things w/ his money.  We let the kids buy what they want (to an extent) with their money.  My mom had given them early b-day money b/c they are going on this trip.  I know for a fact they'll use both things they bought.  Alex has some leftover to purchase things if he wishes.  But, he's talking about saving it in case he sees something on the trip. 

Came home and just got kids to bed.  sort of.  Tomorrow some errand running for sure.  Still no word from Mr. IRS man.  We are nowhere near prepared for our upcoming trip.  We want a shuttle bus for many reasons.  Main one being this van is completely out of room.  We used to bring the kids' friends places and can not do that now.   However, even used shuttles are just too much at the moment.  It is also apparent, we can not just take the van w/ us on this week long trip w/ the 12 of us.  There is literally no room.  That small trek to the mountains proved that two weeks ago.  No room.  We were holding stuff on our laps, everyone squeezed in and just plain uncomfortable.  Could be worse, I know that.  But, need to do something.  We have two vehicles that only have a few more months and are paid off.  Want to keep it that way.  Now, we looked at renting a bus.  Near $2K once all is said and done.  Not worth that when you can put that money toward something.  So, looking into used trailers and rv type things.  Since we go places, we must camp this is a reasonable and viable option.  Called insurance b/c we did not want to get stuck biting off more than we can chew.  He gave me an example of costs... roughly, $20 every 6 months.  Yeh, we can swing that.  He knows us well and is honest.  So now, we've all been looking via craigslist, word of mouth, etc.  Found a few we'll look at this weekend.  Having it for the trip is a must.  Funny thing though, we replied to a few adds.  Cracked up when we got one spam reply in particular.  They were going to "ship" the rv via amazon.  LOL.  You could tell it was a template they use and just fill in the word.  Like book, spoon, clothing, etc.  Can you imagine shipping an rv?!  LOL.  We have a few calls in and calling someone back tomorrow.  Local guy.  This one rv is from 1974 but totally redone and pretty cool looking.  Who knows.  But, we want to travel w/ our family and traveling w/ 12 is no easy feat.  Kids already want to nickname whatever type of vehicle we get.  They saw the movie RV and like the name Rolling Turd.  Umm, no kids. 

Warren's hearing test was perfect.  I haven't gotten Irina's results for her stuff.  Was supposed to go to day but I highly doubt the doc would have let all 10 of us in a room. And no, I can't leave them in the waiting room alone.  BAD idea.  Trust me.  So, rescheduling when Warren is home in he morning and I can go w/ her.  Or vice versa. So much on my mind and so much to do.  More to come but I really need to catch up on quite a bit around here. 

Vote for the kids!!!

Okay, last contest was crazy b/c it truly didn't work right.  This one is EASY.  I promise.  Let me explain.  I entered the kids in a photo contest.  It's for a local paper here.  You receive little prizes which would always be helpful at this house.  We have a great chance as there are only 23 kids total in this contest.  5 of those are mine!  I missed out on Alex entering b/c as I was entering stuff I got interrupted.  Geez, can you imagine getting interrupted from what you're doing in this house?  So, unfortunately, missed him this go around.  Hey, I'm shocked I got 5 entered.  I'll have widgets up later this evening.  For now, you can go to the site and vote.  Since I totally forgot I did this and voting started on Sunday, I'm behind.  But, we can easily catch up and fast.  So, here's the link:  vote for the kids!  Thanks a bunch.  Only 6 kids in 9 to 12 category and 4 of those are mine.  LOL.  You can go to view gallery, page 2 and the 5 of mine are on there.  Just vote and you're done.  I know I should have had this up on Sunday but alas, parenting calls and we had such an awesome time on our trip, I simply forgot.  I think this contest runs through the 17th or something to that effect.  Have to check.  More to come.  Kids and I need to get some errands done soon.  Plus, getting attendance sheets and plans ready for next years' school year as I intend to start in August this year.  I want to end in May as these last two weeks I haven't felt like doing anything.  Terrible, I know.  Think it's summer fever. 

Fort Macon Trip -- part III

After several takes w/ no success on the pictures, we moved toward heading home.  And then a stop at the gift shop as we always get magnets from where we've been.  Firt though, cannon balls seemed to be what fascinated my kids next.

They're starting to pile up on the pile of cannon balls.

My kids would not have made good soldiers.  LOL.  

How many tries before they get to the top of the pile?

Ahh, sweet success.  Victory is Nik's.

His sister helped him retrieve the implants he lost on the way up.  

The best part of a trip is sleeping children on the way home.  Alex, collecting garbage in all the nook and crannies.  We had a great time that day.  Did a lot.  Out to eat at a seafood restaurant, went to the aquarium and onto Fort Macon.  We had wanted to go visit on the beach a bit but figured if we'd plan to stay on the beach, they'd never want to leave.  So, headed home.  Plan on going in July or August to actually stay at the beach a day.  Wilmington is closer to us than Atlantic Beach.  Where we went was nearly 3 hours away.  however, Wilmington we've made it in about an hour and a half.  Great times, great kids.  It was a dry run of sorts for the upcoming CMV (Chaos Manor Vacation).  Kids are counting down.  We are not ready at all.  But excited nonetheless.  More about the CMV in another post.  More to come.  It's the last days of school so much going on.  Church clubs this evening and then to Target for Alex and Alyona to spend their early birthday money before the trip.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fort Macon Trip --- part II

After touring a bunch of the rooms and learning some history, we moved onto the outdoor stuff.  And free open spaces.  Just up their alley.

Max, pretending to be a soldier by the cannon.  Reni looking on for lessons.

Reni really wanted her picture taken.  

Reni, Logan and Nik.  I do think Logan and Nik have bonded.  And to think, a few short months ago while in Bulgaria, Logan would have NEVER have even given Nik a second thought since he was deaf.  Now, he's trying to sign everything.

 Summer told us she had to go to the bathroom.  Yana volunteered to take her.  We're all walking where the cannons used to be lined up all along the fort towards the ocean. 

Summer is growing up so, so fast.  Cutie though for sure!

Summer was not too keened on getting sucked into this hug.

Irina wanted her picture taken w/ her daddy.  Then Reni wanted in on the action.  Alyona was just too lazy to scoot on over.  LOL.

After Summer posed, Alyona wanted a turn.  Pretty young lady.

Take one of all ten together.  Think it will happen?  Probably not.

Take two.  It was as good as it gets.  Alex isn't smiling and Logan is pretending to be in pain.

Final take.  What's with Bojan?  And Yana is not even looking.  Oh well.  Better luck next time at a shot.

Reni, Alyona and Nik.  As you can tell, I let everyone come as in.  My kids have no fashion sense but they sure do have a lot of love for each other.  A few more pics later to share.  Need to get to bed.  Have a great night.

Fort Macon Trip -- part 1

On Sunday after the Aquarium trip, we headed on over to Fort Macon just 7 miles down the road.  After some science we figured we needed some history.  LOL. 

Summer, studying where we are going.  Well, she had help reading it.

Irina posing on a shell.  

Kids loved this.  Spin it and you can see the birds flying.  

They were fascinated by the different birds eggs.  Irina was reading them all out. 

These were steep steps.  Nothing down there.  Kids kept thinking it would be a prison or something cool.  

Safety first.....or not.  Kids playing on the giant cannon.  Can you imagine having to shoot one of these things??

This sign says it all.

Max's look was priceless.  He was looking at old surgical instruments.  I think anyone would be scared.  Got to love the container of leeches.

this pretty much grossed us out.   They told of their life in the barracks.  Yuck!  They disassembled the beds every week to disinfect b/c they'd be full of bugs by week's end.  

Alex sat out of one of the rooms.  He was getting over heated again.  Alls clear as far as blood work and endo go.  Just something he needs to learn to live with.  And it was a cool day for the mid-70's.  Ironically, he's sitting under the furnace they used to use to heat up the cannon balls before firing.

Sample of old dining hall.  I actually like this set up.  

Irina was not too interested in the food choices back then.  

More pictures forthcoming.  Speech therapist just left and now we're all hanging out.  Alyona is working on writing as she still needs to finish that book.  I've been looking at trailers for traveling.  Calling the hitch place in a moment as one needs to be installed.  Had one on the old van but this one does not.  Not much else going on here.  Thank goodness.  More later.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Aquarium trip -- Part IV

Time for the touch tanks.  This is not a big aquarium.  The one we went to years ago at Ripleys was bigger.  But, this one is very nice too. 

Reni enjoying her first time in the touch tank.

Alex and Nik laughing about who knows what.

Kids learning about the hermit crabs and horsehoe crabs.  

All of them loved the horseshoe crab and hermit crabs.  Even Summer who was afraid of the other touch tank.

Most of the kids hanging out still.  They really enjoyed this part.  

Love beautiful fish.  Just thought this one was so cool.  

Took a few shots.

And my favorite close up of this gorgeous unique creature.

Take one.  Nope, not even half looking.  Retake needed.

NOt bad a retake though Summer looks like she's about to fall and Bojan looks mad.  Still majority are looking and smiling.

Some nice lady saw me struggling and offered to take a shot w/ all of us in it.  Pretty nice of her for sure.  And not all look for another person either.  LOL.  but, not bad I don't think.  We all had such a great time at the aquarium.  After this, it was off to our next adventure for the day.   Stay tuned tomorrow.  I'll tell of our Fort Macon tales.  Good night.